Diabetes May Increase Risk of Colon Cancer in Men

A study published in the journal Gastroenterology found men with diabetes are more likely to develop colon cancer. Researchers noted that the findings didn’t apply to women.

The study involved more than 184,000 adults who were between ages 50 and 74 when they study was launched in 1992. Participants answered questionnaires about their health and lifestyle periodically over a 15-year span. Overall, the men with diabetes were nearly 25% more likely to develop colon cancer than the men who did not have diabetes. Researchers also discovered that men who used insulin to manage their diabetes were 36% more likely to be diagnosed with the disease.

Researchers speculate that diabetes may encourage the growth and spread of cancer by continually elevating blood levels of insulin and insulin-related hormones that promote cellular growth in general.

The study found no correlation between diabetes and the risk of colon cancer in women. Lead author of the study, Peter T. Campbell, an epidemiologist with the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, Georgia, suggested the absence of a connection between the two diseases may be because women are doing a better job of managing their blood sugar.

Additional Risk Factors for Colon Cancer

Nearly 103, 000 cases of colon cancer are diagnosed annually in the U.S., reports the National Cancer Institute. Colorectal cancer is the fourth most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and women.

Well-established risk factors associated with colon cancer include family history of the disease, and a personal history of breast cancer or inflammatory bowel disease.

People who eat a high-fat, low-fiber diet that regularly includes red or processed meats, as well as those who drink alcohol or smoke, are also at a greater risk of developing colon cancer, notes Medline Plus. Men and women over age 60 are most likely to be diagnosed with the disease.

Preventing and Controlling Type 2 Diabetes

Eating a healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables and whole grains, along with regular exercise may help prevent and manage type 2 diabetes, reports the Mayo Clinic. Aim for at least 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories you consume.

Fiber helps regulate blood sugar levels. If you are overweight, shedding as little as 5% of your body weight can lower your risk of type 2 diabetes.